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No Accommodation Required Where Employee Could Adjust Schedule

Jessica Colonna worked as an office assistant for UPMC Hamot. She was required to be at work by 8:30 a.m.; she lived about 10-15 minutes away. After working for UPMC for a decade, she developed a severe dry eye condition that impacted her ability to work in the morning. She used intermittent FMLA leave for a while to cope with the condition until the leave was exhausted. 

Her condition, called Sjogren’s Syndrome, made it difficult for her to see when she woke up. She needed 60-90 minutes after waking and putting in special eye drops before it was safe for her to drive to work. Ms. Colonna requested a later start time to accommodate her need for medication and time in the morning. The company considered her request but denied the accommodation. By getting up earlier, Ms. Colonna could be at work on time. After being written up many times for tardiness, Ms. Colonna was terminated. 

The district court in Pennsylvania dismissed her case. “When an employee, as here, can manage and overcome her limitations with minor effort, she does not require an accommodation for purposes of the ADA.” That Ms. Colonna did not want to have to get up an hour earlier to be at work on time made her request for accommodation unreasonable. She could perform the essential functions of her position without accommodation. The evidence also showed that UPMC had considered her requests for accommodation each time she presented new medical information. It had engaged in a good faith effort to resolve the issue but it was not required to accommodate her.